The Cubs won the division. In St. Louis. Let’s not bury the lede here.
Usually, I’ll at least walk the dog or take some sort of break before I write these, whether here or on my site. But tonight is not that kind of occasion. Let’s soak. Let’s bathe in it. Let’s be euphoric. Crack one open as you read this. I did while writing it.
There may come a time where this feels rote. Or it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment. But it should. Baseball has done its best to neuter the regular season and winning divisions. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Maybe you don’t have to be dominant like the Cubs were last year. But they still had to put up the best record in the National League in the second half, and all that got them was clinching with four days to go.
So it’s worth celebrating. Like I said yesterday, if you’re my age this is only the seventh time I’ve seen the Cubs win a division. If I put my fandom at an even 30 years, that’s only 20 percent of the time. That’s not a lot. If you’re younger than me you don’t remember 1989. So this is only six for you. It’s still special. It shouldn’t ever get old. MLB culls 66 percent of its teams after Sunday. Come a week from tonight 73 percent will be gone. The Cubs won’t be one of them. That’s still a great feeling.
One of the many reasons we love this team, maybe the biggest, is that this team doesn’t take any success merely as routine or par for the course. You celebrate the good things. Because they don’t come along that often. Even just this, which only feels like step one, takes six months, hundreds of plate appearances and thousands of pitches. It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock n’ roll.
You want to know the reasons people hate the Cardinals or the Yankees? Because they’ve made this sort of thing so joyless. What’s the point of all this if it’s just work? What kind of way is that to go through anything? Who wants to die without some scars?
This is the Cubs, and we’re Cubs fans. What we do best is take the joy in things, because we’re still acutely aware of how hard they are to come by. I hope it never gets routine, because a baseball season shouldn’t only have one happy moment at the very end and the rest just be prologue.
There’s finally a chill in the air. The sky had that weird purple/pink finish to it tonight that you seem to only get in the fall. With it comes a charge. And some of that is knowing the baseball that’s going to be played during it. Maybe it’s only three to five more games. Maybe it’s a lot more. It’s the accomplishment and the possibilities that make this so exciting. So affirming. You get to look back and ahead.
This is the night you get where you don’t have to speculate or try and play the next series through in your head. We’ll have time enough for that. We get to just be here. It wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t always enjoyable, but they got there. In the end, they don’t usually ask how. It doesn’t need to glow.
Chicago Cubs. NL Central Champs. You smiled while reading that. Hold onto that, it should always do so no matter how many times it happens from here on out. Because we’re Cubs fans, and that’s what we do.
Lead photo courtesy Jeff Curry—USA Today Sports